Amazon Echo Button is about to do a whole lot more

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Since the Amazon Echo Button launched in September 2017 as a fun game accessory for your Amazon Echo devices, Amazon has only released 22 Alexa skill games for the device, most of which don’t have the greatest reviews

Thankfully, Echo Button owners hungry for new content may not have to wait long as Amazon announced on Tuesday the release of the Gadget Skills API Beta. 

Now, independent developers can use the Alexa Skills Kit to integrate the Echo Button’s “inputs and actions” into their Alexa apps. 

As part of the announcement, Amazon unveiled some games that indie devs with advance beta access created, such as Color Tap (which tests your reaction speed), Simon Tap (the classic Hasbro game, only with Alexa and your Button) and Freedom Buttons (a recording of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech that lights the Button like a candle). 

The Freedom Buttons Skill shows Amazon trying to make good on a CES promise to add some non-game Skills to Buttons. Amazon's documentation page mentions how the Button can act as a “sound effect generator” or a colored light-up indicator—turning red when your timer hits zero, for example. 

Amazon even suggests devs can “add Echo Buttons to an existing skill”. So if you had an Alexa-enabled smart speaker or smart TV, for example, you could theoretically tell Alexa to make your Button an instant on-off switch for that device. 

Of course, with only one possible input available, your Button’s capabilities are fairly limited as an accessory to other devices; we’re curious how many devs will take Amazon up on their beta offer. 

Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

Amazon’s announcement also contains a hint that the Echo Button isn’t the only Amazon gadget that could work with the new API. The graph above specifically points out that the Gadget Controller Interface could work with any Amazon gadget, not just the Button. 

There are already a ton of gadgets with Alexa support, but Amazon’s new Gadget SDK could make it easier for developers to create their own game accessories with Alexa built in. 

With the SDK, Amazon says, Alexa can "control your gadget to move motors, play sounds, flash lights, or trigger other actions based on customer interactions with Alexa".

So if you own an Echo but don't want to drop £20/$20 on a pair of Buttons, you should still keep your eyes peeled for other cool Alexa Gadgets in the near future.